Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dec. 15, 2014 in Huntersville, NC Elder Christofferson's Visit

Howdy Howdy Howdy,

So Elder Christofferson was in North Carolina for a stake conference, and he gave us a couple hours in the morning that we could meet with him. President and Sister C. bore their testimonies, and then Elder Christofferson had a question-and-answer session for an hour and a half! Lots of the questions he answered with scriptures, and it was funny, because he carries one of the new tiny little sets with him when he travels, and he said "Elder Ballard will ask me "Are you sure you have all the scriptures in there? It seems you could be missing a few!"" Haha It was fantastic! Our questions covered all kinds of topics, including unified service, priesthood keys, building a testimony, the Book of Mormon, grace and the Atonement, the power and reason for covenants, faith, repentance, and forgiveness. I'll highlight a couple of ideas:

In Hebrews 13:17 it talks about how our priesthood leaders will give a report on us. Elder Christofferson told us to make sure President C's report about each of us missionaries is a happy one, and not one where he says "oh, uh let's move to the next one..." He actually used Elder Z. as an example for this one, and we all know Elder Z. is super fantastic :) Elder Christofferson just said "Where is Elder Z.? (Z. said in an Italian accent). So Elder Z., will pres. C.'s report on you be a happy one? Of course it will."

Talking about unity, elder Christofferson said "if you are missing unity in your companionship, you each must love God more and keep the first commandment. We should all have this love in the Church."

In Matthew, Christ gives what's called the great commission. It's restated in the Doctrine and Covenants section 112:28-29. It's to "go into all the world, and preach the gospel and baptize." It was given to his Apostles, but the Apostles can't reach the entire world. That's why they have the Seventies. But the Apostles and the Seventies still can't reach all the world, that's why they have us. Elder Christofferson then said we are literally companions with the Apostles, and we share Apostolic authority! So that was pretty neat to think about. He also said "it's a miracle God lets us touch anything in his kingdom. Yet he lets us handle the fine China and the Crystal. He trusts us with a portion of this work. We must handle it with the spirit. With the spirit all will come out right, so pray mightily."

Then Elder Christofferson talked about how testimonies are formed gradually. He said that his seemed to develop overtime without any certain turning point. "That doesn't mean that our testimonies are deficient. There's no problem with knowledge from the Holy Ghost, it's truth is pure. That's why to sin against it is the unpardonable sin." He said his testimony began with the Book of Mormon, and he hopes we rely upon it in our missionary work. We will never receive the chance to study it for 2 hours a day again. He said "the Lord doesn't just tell us once it is true, he will confirm it to us again and again. If we can control anything in life, it is living in the condition to receive a confirmation."

When asked about Grace he shared the scripture Doctrine and Covenants 20:29–31. We are cleansed, justified, and sanctified by grace, but we must accept Grace by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. As missionaries we come offering this gift to all people. We invite them to repent to receive the kingdom of heaven. He jokingly talked about using that as a door approach "knock knock knock. How can I help you? REPENT!" :) Hahaha. He said "now, not everyone you talk to will believe that we are "the Kingdom of Heaven", but that doesn't change the fact that it is true. They will reject us but it is true. It is true." Also talking about Grace he said that if we are on the path to repentance and living righteously when we leave this life, we've succeeded. No matter how short or far on the path we've come, if we're on it, we pass.

Someone asked him a great question about what covenants do for us. He told us that everything starts with faith. Faith is a spiritual gift and we must increase it. We can grow our faith through prayer, acting on faith, bearing testimony, and repenting. But one way we may not think about is that keeping Covenants increases our faith! Covenants are individual promises with God, so God literally says "Zac, you can live in the Celestial Kingdom if you keep your end." One time while talking with a Protestant minister, the minister said that the world needs more strong Christians. Elder Christofferson said that Covenants are what make us "strong Christians."

One Elder asked "what would you have us know about repentance?" Elder Christofferson responded "do it!" :) haha. Then he said "when we talk about repentance, we should have on a smile." He also made mention of the people who believe repentance is easy, and we can do whatever we want as long as we plan to repent later. He said that first, how can we be sure we will repent? And second, "this kind of attitude is basically slapping the Lord in the face, telling him "you pay for this." He then told us a story of one time when he took the sacrament, and in sacrament cup only had a couple of drops in it. His first thought was "One of those teachers isn't doing his job right." But then his second thought came, and it said "wouldn't it be nice if I was faithful enough that he only suffered a few drops for me." We don't wish for the Savior to suffer unnecessarily. He also talked about how time doesn't erase sin, only repentance does, and how we need to check ourselves and make sure we're clean. He said that those kinds of prayers for remembrance can be scary, because we receive an answer! But often the repentance process is simple and we can be forgiven and cleansed of that burden we didn't even realize we had.

Finally, he talked about once we finish repenting, then it is finished! We are to first, confess our sins but second, to forsake them. The Lord remembers them no more, but if God knows everything, then how can this be!? It's because it is as if that sin never happened. Then he said "Satan doesn't want us to forget our sins. The jerk..." :) We all laughed super hard! Haha, it was great! Then he said this: 

"God wants you to walk in the Sunshine, not in the Shadows."

Looking at our future lives he said "there will be trials yes, challenges yes, discouragement yes. But in the end it's a good life. Some of you wondering if you're doing enough or if the Lord accepts your offering. I bless you that in the coming weeks you'll see the joy God has in you. You worry about being too perfect. It is important to change, but you are already doing more good than you realize. I bless you with power in teaching and testifying. You are the Kingdom of Heaven. I bless you with protection. And I bless you that you will remember this day, and that you heard these words, and this testimony, from my lips."

It was a wonderful visit and a wonderful chance to hear him speak. The church is so true!!

Thanks for the email and support!
Love you!
Elder Branch

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